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22 February 2002
Stress and more stress

Are we coping?

The short and sweet to this one is NO! And I don't think there are many countries that aren't in the same boat. In a recent study though South Africa came up trumps as the most stressful place to live on earth. Considering the other "claims to fame" this country bask in, such as owning up to having "the crime capitol" in the world, the "highest incidents of rape" and one of the top HIV/AIDS infections on the universe, it is no wonder we live under constant duress and stress.

A clear indication of South Africans inability to deal with the modern day pressures excerted on them, are the increased incidents of child molestation, rape, road-rage, family killings and suicides. It is a sad fact. Add to that an economy that has shown a below average (and expectations) growth rate with more unemployment than ever before and you can only start to realise the pressures we're all under.

The ANC government is in one hell of a situation, and I doubt wether they or their highly paid advisors have any answers to the problems they created. It surely is understandable that there would've been a celebratiry period, a honeymoon if you like after their convincing show of power and support during the 1994 elections. But man, is this honeymoon carrying on and on!

The budget speech by Trevor Manuel brought some relieve for most of us. Over and above the millions already allocated to the Aids pendemic, it got a further boost with extra funds allocated to it. But in spite of all this we still come across as a "banana republic" purely because of a president that shuns all expert opinions on HIV/Aids. Mandela himself eventually could not hold it in any longer and told Mbeki to stop the discussions and arguing and to get on with this war our country is in. Retroviral drugs are now eventually officially seeing implementation. Province by province they've decided to start helping the people and to ignore governments' little fits about how dangerous these drugs are to normal people. Maybe they've seen that it does not damage nor harm state officials who's been on these programs for a while now.

The situation in Zimbabwe is not helping either. All independant South African reporters have been banned from covering the elections in that country. Mugabe sure has a lot of faith in Mbeki. Looking at Mbeki's stance on the situation there, I'm not surprised. The rest of the world must surely know by now that South Africa will eventually end up like that country. And a great pity it would be.

The Rand is still struggling to gain ground on other major currency. The gold price helped a bit, but with a TB infection of close on eighty percent amongst South African gold mine workers, of which close on seventy percent have HIV, it is indeed a worrysome situation for economists. If infection carries on the way it does currently, our economy will come to a standstill very soon.

South Africa was deemed the second cheapest country in the world recently. BMW claims that motorvehicles are on average twenty-five percent cheaper than in other countries. Something to attract tourists? Sure, but nothing to brag about! The tourism board got their act together, now it's up to government to get the internal safety issues in order. Suzuki Japan recently launched a new motorcycle model in Cape Town. It cost them close on a million Rand to fly twenty-five motorcycles out here. For an international launch they spent peanuts. Which is great for us right? With major facilities now charging Dollars, few of the locals can afford what's available.

Just drive on any major road, take note of how people drive and decide for yourself. An excellent point of reference would the site roadhogs, a South African site where any person can report inconsiderate and reckless drivers. And do not try and compare us with a first world country. With our population the incident rate is far too high, name an incident and it would probably apply to it. To me this single factor is already enough to prove that South Africans are in general going downhill. To be honest, these days I make a point of it to compliment drivers who follow the rules of the road, even if it's just with a wave of the hand or a thumbs-up. More drivers though are keeping to the speed limit, but with the fuel price as it is, this doesn't surprise me.